CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Virginia Tech men’s and women’s cross country teams each won team titles at the Charlotte Invitational at McAlpine Park today as the Hokie men scored 35 points topping a field of 34 teams, while the women scored 84 points to place first out of 36 teams competing.
“Today was a good day for us winning both team races,” said Tech Head Cross Country and Distance Coach Ben Thomas. “We had a number of good performances and personal bests for this course, which is always nice to see.”
The Tech men took four out of the top eight places and five out of the top-12, including spots four through six, en route to the team title. Their five-man spread was just 17 seconds.
Leading the way for the men was redshirt-junior Michael Hammond, who placed fourth individually out of 258 finishers in a time of 24:28.0 on the 8,000-meter McAlpine Park layout. Hammond was followed closely by redshirt-junior Will Mulherin in fifth (24:32.6) and junior Jason Cusack in sixth (24:33.6). Junior Ryan Hagen earned a top-10 finish with an eighth place performance of 24:39.6 and sophomore Kevin Dowd rounded out the Tech scoring in 12th overall (24:45.2).
Freshman Brayden Burleigh turned in a 15th-place showing (24:53.8), while junior Joseph Murray (25:02.3), redshirt-sophomore Jared Berman (25:04.5) and sophomore Grant Pollock (25:05.1) took places 21 through 23 overall.
Five men: Cusack, Dowd, Hagen, Murray, and Pollock all beat their time from last year at Charlotte.
“The men were going to stay together as a pack through 6k and pretty much ran through the 5k mark together,” said Thomas. “Today was a little faster pace for them at the end so I’m looking forward to seeing what our top-eight can do in the upcoming meets when we get out to a faster start. If we can combine a faster start with a finish like we had today, we should continue to be competitive."
The women also ran well together, finishing with a seven-runner spread of only 15 seconds. Freshman Sarah Rapp returned to her home state and led the Hokies with a 16th-place overall finish in a time of 17:41.3 for the five kilometer race.
Sophomore Courtney Dobbs finished in 18th (17:45.0) while classmate Madalyn Nuckols was 19th (17:45.1). Tech’s next three runners occupied places 22 through 24 as sophomore Alex Watt (17:47.3), sophomore Taylor Crosson (17:51.5) and senior Sammy Dow (17:51.9) all crossed the line in the top-25 overall. Sophomore Paige Kvartunas also broke the 18-minute mark finishing seventh for Tech and 28th overall in 17:56.1.
Crosson, Dowd, Nuckols and Watt all bettered their time from last year's Charlotte Invite.
“The women had a similar strategy today as our last meet at Clemson in that we packed up through 4k and then ran hard to the finish,” said Thomas. “We still finished as a tight pack and overall I think it was another step forward as we get ready for some faster races ahead.”
Tech’s men finished 51 points clear of second place Liberty, while the women were 43 points ahead of runner-up Furman. Zac Edwards of Liberty won the men’s race in 24:08.7, while South Carolina-Upstate’s Joan Tangwar bested 290 women in 16:53.7.
In addition, Tech also hosted the VT Open, a non-scoring intrasquad race at the Tech Cross Country Course on campus this evening.
In the women’s 6k, a group of three runners raced to the line as sophomore Erika Weidman ran for Tech and won in a time of 24:11.57. Freshman Camille Bouvet (24:11.86), running unattached, and senior Lauren Pinkston (24:12.07) finished right behind Weidman.
In the men’s 8k, freshmen Ryan Kuhns (3rd, 26:19.90), George Carter (4th, 26:27.91) and Pat Woodford (5th, 27:05.57) all competed unattached. Eddie Judge, also competing unattached, won the men’s race in 26:11.76.
The Hokies are back in action in two weeks as they will run at the Appalachian State Blue Ridge Open on Friday, Oct. 14, and then the Indiana State Pre-National Invitational on Sunday, Oct. 16.
For updates on Virginia Tech cross country, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Track).